Ice Ice Ipod, too cold? Too cold?
November 23, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

How bad is it for me to leave my iPod classic in the car all the time?

I live in the Midwest where in the coldest parts of winter temperatures average about 17 degrees F (although they can and do drop below zero regularly) and our highs in the hottest months average in the mid 80s though we do have our post 100 degree days.

I park my car outdoors in the sunshine during the day, indoors in a standard garage during the night. In the garage items like bottled water and soda rarely freeze, but have on a few occasions. (Likewise soda stupidly left in the trunk of my car has frozen and left me some burst cans full of slush).

Given all of this, how bad is it for my iPod to be left in the car at all times? My iPod is a hard drive based iPod classic that I only use in my car. My dock for the iPod is in my glove box and it's somewhat inconvenient to remove from the car regularly, and I only take the iPod with me when I want to update the music.

But I am a computer guy and part of me knows that it's unsafe to use devices that have been in the cold, and that I should worry about condensation as the item warms up, etc, etc, etc. Of course, that being said, condensation is also likely to form as I take it from warm buildings to cold outdoors to a cold but rapidly heating car, right?

If the problem is specific to the hard drive would I be better off getting an iPod Nano or something not hard drive based? Or is the problem to the electronics?

Thanks in advance for settling this issue between my wife and I (she is constantly taking it out of the car, and thus constantly leaving me music-less as I don't expect to go to the car and my iPod to be missing)
posted by arniec to Technology (10 answers total)
Google "ipod storage temperature", find your type. At a glance, ranges seem to be from -20° C to -13° C.
posted by krilli at 8:19 AM on November 23, 2009

I have a 3G iPod that has been sitting in my car in the DC Metro area (winter probably not quite down into the teens, summer quite hot) for about four years. It's plugged into the cigarette lighter. It works fine.

I'm not saying this is best practice or anything, and I do try not to start it up when it's really ice cold (and I do try to keep it out of the direct sun in the summer, for the benefit of the LCD), but it hasn't killed it yet.

My experience is that consumer computer components are surprisingly robust.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:26 AM on November 23, 2009


I had a 3rd generation iPod, and a newer iPod classic, both of which have been car music devices. Always in the glove-box. Temperatures ranging from summers in South Texas to winters in New Hampshire. Nothing's been worse for the wear. The iPod 3rd gen. still works, and if I hadn't updated, it would have kept on clicking (no matter how much I wished it had died so I could have purchased a newer one earlier, but that's another story). The classic I have now has been living in my car for a little over a year, and it's just chugging right along.

I try to keep it out of direct sunlight, but since it lives in the glove-box most of the time, not a big deal.
posted by SNWidget at 8:42 AM on November 23, 2009

I have an iPod classic that I leave in the car at all times, through the Maine winter. It works fine. The only part of it that is less than perfect is the battery, which one would expect after 5+ years regardless of how it was treated.
posted by miss tea at 8:44 AM on November 23, 2009

Several years ago, I had a 40G clickwheel iPod. Left it in the glovebox for an afternoon. The heat completely fried the screen and the hard drive wasn't exactly happy either. YMMV.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:47 AM on November 23, 2009

From the iPod Classic User Guide:
Keeping iPod within acceptable temperatures. Operate iPod in a place where the temperature is always between 0 and 35 C (32 to 95 F). iPod play time might temporarily shorten in low-temperature conditions.
Store iPod in a place where the temperature is always between -20 and 45 C (-4 to 113 F). Don’t leave iPod in your car, because temperatures in parked cars can exceed this range.
One risk is that, on very cold mornings, the iPod will be below it's recommended operating temperature (32F). Even if you don't use it until after your car warms up, the way most car docks seem to work the iPod would still be on, even if it's not playing music. But if it was my iPod I would just leave it in the car.

Incidentally, the note about temporarily shortening play time refers to the fact that lithium batteries (well, most batteries) lose some capacity when very cold, but it's only a temporary effect. At too high a temperature, especially if operating, lithium can permanently lose capacity. But if it's primarily used in your car then that's not much of an issue.
posted by 6550 at 8:53 AM on November 23, 2009

You should not leave it in the cold. That said, here in Ottawa, I have left mine in my car on a -30°C (which Google says is -22°F) night and the next day it was working fine, although it took a few minutes to do anything and the LCD was really slow to refresh. If there's any moisture in your iPod when it freezes though, that is seriously bad news.
posted by battlebison at 9:17 AM on November 23, 2009

More anecdotal data: My 3G ipod has been sitting in my car for almost 6 years. It has survived New England summers and winters. I replaced the battery once. The UI gets less responsive during the depths of winter, so I'll warm it up by putting it under my ass, but otherwise, it's fine.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

It'll be fine. I have owned (almost) every gen ipod and several of those have sat through many central valley summers and Tahoe winters. I'd say glove box it rather than letting it sit exposed to the sun.
posted by special-k at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2009

Protip: If iPod (battery) is too cold to use when you get out to your car, put the Hold on it and shove it under a leg (between seat and leg). Flip after 5 mintues. Should power on a little bit beyond that.
posted by ijoyner at 6:48 PM on November 23, 2009

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